Tatsu Aikawa brought ramen culture and izakaya-style dining to Austin. But because he’s Tokyo-born and Texas-bred, his food, rooted in Japanese traditions, evokes the spirit and smoke of the state that raised him.
Aikawa spent most of his upbringing in restaurants, specifically Japanese eateries. The dish pit became his domain, and he rose from that paid-under-the-table-position to line cook. When an apprenticeship with Michelin-star Sushi Chef Hiroyuki Urasawa brought him to Los Angeles, Aikawa was inspired to perfect recipes for his own ramen-ya.
Aikawa returned to Austin to manifest his vision with Takuya Matsumoto and his younger brother, Shion Aikawa. In a city where ramen culture was essentially nonexistent, Ramen Tatsu-ya became the city’s first-ever brick-and-mortar noodle operation. Aikawa’s second venture introduced izakaya – with a smoker out front for Texas character. Opened in 2017, Kemuri Tatsu-ya earned instant acclaim, including a spot on Bon Appétit’s “Hot 10” list. Aikawa has aspirations for more ramen shops, as well as an intimate omakase counter, where he will continue to playfully combine Japanese soul with Texas heart.
TAKUYA “TAKO” MATSUMOTO
Austin-born and bred as a first generation Japanese-American, Tako is the coolest dude you’ll ever meet. He’s received accolades for his visual art, spent several years as a hip-hop DJ and worked as an electronics engineering technician. His career as a chef took shape in high school when he enrolled in a culinary class and began working in kitchens. In 2004, Tako graduated from Le Cordon Bleu. Following graduation, he gained experience in various positions including line cook, sushi chef and executive chef. After receiving a phone call from Tatsu in the spring of 2012, the pair embarked on a new journey together in creating Austin’s first brick-and-mortar ramen shop, and has since opened two additional shops as well as acclaimed Texas-influenced izakaya Kemuri Tatsu-Ya.